Friday, August 30, 2013

My Trip to Portland, Day 2

Hello! I'm way too tired to talk about my entire thing today, but I'll show you pictures and some poetry.

Today, I went to Powell's Books
I got SERIOUSLY lost, but that was the best
There was a giant manga section. I sent this picture
to my friends.
Oh, remember the tip jar
from this morning? Yeah. I got $5!
Poetry for the day:

"David's" Phone Beeped

A missed call! It chimes
making my heart race
and almost split the ladder. 

The Rose Room

There are books on the ceiling!
I admit, I'm overwhelmed
There aren't benches
I love it.

The Journal Corner

But, alas!
They're all so expensive.
Must I remember my own
principles of value?
My wallet growls. 

User Error

I'm curious
as to how this ladder will be set
to reach the dusty shelves by I
after I brunt the toast this morning. 

Re-Locating the Map in the Pearl Room

My lungs are dust
and filled with ink
and worn-away glue
and cutting pages
to my penniless heart. 
Heart races, nervous paces.
Wrong room, wrong room. 

Tip Jar! all I have to say for now.

I was playing the piano at breakfast today.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hugo the Restaurant Dog at Oven and Shaker

Hey, everyone! Before I start the post, I wanted to thank everyone who's followed me in the past few days. Coming from other blogging endeavors, getting two followers in a day - which happened this morning - is very exciting for me, as well as getting one yesterday and the day before that. I am very pleased with where my blog is going based on these numbers, and it's full speed ahead!
I'm reporting "live" from Beaverton, Oregon at a very nice inn. We drove into Portland after a few hours of the cross-state culture-shock getting-over, walking around for some time before finding a kissing dog-friendly restaurant by the name of Oven and Shaker.

Hint: Fried Chickpeas Make Good Dog Treats
We sat outside with my dog sitting on the bench opposite to mine. He gleefully distracted the people at the table behind him and all the wait staff who passed. In the meantime, I had a very nice non-alcoholic drink that was some sort of grapefruit juice with a wedge of starfruit. (The starfruit was very good, I have to say. Haven't had very much exotic fruit past jackfruit and durian since my trip to Bali in the second grade.)

Headless person on the right. Photo Editing Gold.
Then, there was the picture that I wanted to take. Sitting a few tables away from us was a man alone with a small alcoholic drink (margarita?) and a thick book. He sat there, hand in his short-trimmed dreads and then on the table or turning a page. Otherwise, he was pouring more water for himself, having gotten three-quarters of the way to the bottom of the bottle by the time I noticed halfway into my pizza.  He sat there, reading and twirling the plant-holder for longer than we had been seated, I noticed, until I was popping the last few fried chickpeas into my mouth. Onto the platform walked a girl whose long hair was braided into one very long strand. I only saw the back of her head, but the man reading had forgotten to mark his page as he gestured for her to sit. I rejoiced in that his loneliness had been broken. I can't imagine the shame and sadness of going to a restaurant so formal as this one (Not so formal, but not a Starbucks) without someone to spend time with. My heart goes out to this man and my curiosity in the meantime will wander towards his book.

Night 1 of Portland was pretty good! Catch you all tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thoughts on a Writing Plan

This year, having stumbled upon an extra composition book, I have decided to improve my fiction this year by developing a writing plan to focus on certain elements as I work on my NaNoWriMo novel. Here's my plan as of yet:

August-September - Character Relations (devlopment, dialogue, background integration)
October-November - Setting and Description (or as I say, set-n'-descrip)
November - NaNoWriMo! I'm hoping to finish my novel during this month.
December-January - Specific Characters (Thinking back to August and focusing on single characters and how they handle themselves)

New Notebook after January (or whenever it gets filled)

February-March - Extras, Extras, Extras! (Poetry, Song, Fairy Tale)
April-May - Short Story Work (I mean, this will be happening the entire time, but more focus.)
June-July - NaNo Focus, Probably Beginning of Editing Phase II

I'll start posting entries to Character Relations once or twice a week with my favorite bits and bobs. Until then, I'll be off. Ciao!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Boy Behind the Tree

In my apartment, there are three instruments which I play daily; two guitars - electric and acoustic - and a keyboard. As a pianist of four years, I love classical and general improvisation of modern pieces, though any bit suffices. As stated in the Realer Life, children of all ages run past my back door every day, causing my dog to go bonkers if I don't hold him myself. However, my dad was taking the dog for a drive and I got to stay inside and amuse myself. After a little Doctor Who, I decided to download sheet music for Clara's Theme and play it on my keyboard. I pulled up the sheets (which were fairly easy) and began working it out. I got through the entire piece a few times and started working on individual bits. I ran through the piece once more, trying to make out the struggle of the Doctor's attempt at understanding his Impossible Girl. I struck the final chords and raised my hands.
At this point, a ray of sunlight had made its way through the trees and above the building before us, landing right where my electric guitar had been stood up. I turned towards it in PNW-y fascination to catch the face of a boy around my age peeking out from behind one of the last natural cedars. He was wearing a red soccer jersey which stood out especially when I saw him in the parking lot hours later. From behind the tree, he laughed and ran away.
Thinking speculatively as a person pretending to be older, I was flattered to see someone - especially a boy, if I choose to revert to my own age for a moment - enjoying the art which was laughed upon at my school. I'm finding that this realer life, though it can be stereotyped, is sweeter than it has ever been. It's almost too picturesque. People enjoying their lives regardless of income and social standing. If one can ride a bike, scooter, or run, they are welcome. Even if they can sit and talk, they are included. Children - and I could have been one of them - roam the lots and yards, laughing and hanging out every day in the sun. I feel out of place, being that one girl who never speaks and tends to keep to herself, her dog, and her keyboard. Perhaps, with the help and support of Tree Boy, I'll find my way into the ray of light.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Sale: Repost from Devereaux's Dungeons

As a new D&D player, I feel similar to D.S. Devereaux in this post.

I've been asked before, "Dev, what do you need to play D&D?". At one point a few months ago, I would have listed books and bits for player support and things. However, I now realize that all I needed to play - whether I wanted it or not - was a king heart and wide smile. I play with a notebook, pencils, character sheet, and dice. As I play more, I have come to realize that none of these items were ever bought by me. My notebook was a birthday present (It's a very nice notebook!) and so were my dice. My character sheet was downloaded from the Playtest Packet, and I was given the pencil before I played a particular day. My two promotional and one ranger-style d20's were gifts, as was my map of Baldur's Gate.
A friend of mine was very excited to play. She went to a store a few days ago and bought $200 worth of 4e D&D swag for a fifth of the price, as well as Magic and Kaijudo decks for free. She sent me a photo shortly after. I was very disheartened. I can't easily afford the books and I'm very blessed to be able to playtest for free, thanks to WotC. I'm essentially the bottomfeeding gamer junkie, rid of any way to buy anything shiny.
I went to Encounters that week feeling swamped over by the friend's picture. I realized how little I had and from that I felt like a lesser player. I walked into the store with a Dr. Pepper and a d10 necklace (Pretty much all of my "expensive" D&Swag.). There, I started talking with the others as normal. The DM was happy to see that I had turned up and waved through the window while talking on the phone. I sat back in my normal seat, opening my notebook and taking out my character sheet, crisp from being printed just hours before.
During the game, I fumbled with my d10 a little bit and one player suggested that I get one from the store we were at - the price was particularly low - and offered that I use his d10 until the end of the session. Nar became ravenously hungry (a very scary sight) and the DM offered his filled M&Ms punchcard for her to use. I began to come to grips with the fact that everything my friend had wasn't needed at all. I had everything I needed - a knowledge of the rules and dice - all as gifts through bits of kindness. I realized that D&D wasn't about shiny books and sparkly dice; It was about kindness and fun. These players - REAL players, not just enthusiasts - would happily give to others as needed and from this have taught me a very powerful lesson. So what if they have everything that my friend has and more? They don't flaunt their merch, they teach and give all that they have taken in.
From this, I have the shiniest, hardest to afford bit of D&D swag in the world - humility even more than books and sparkle. I will never, ever let this go. (re-posted with permission)
 Dev teaches a powerful lesson here. Many things in this world don't require all the shiny things, even though they've been categorized to do so. I'm a pianist; I don't need a grand Steinway and crystal-backed metronome. I use a keyboard and a website. I'm a student; I don't need the latest calculator and Juicy backpack to go with my Blackberry. I have a TI from a few years ago, a backpack that smells like fallen pizza, and a phone that makes calls and checks my e-mail.
Dev also points out that  the players who she interacts with are genuine and "real", as I have referenced before. What an amazing post! Nice job, Dev!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dear Lily: Songwriting

Occasionally, I dabble in song lyrics, that which I will now attempt:

(Sad and slow) (Piano chrods)
One day, we'll find our names up there
People pointing to the bright lights
One day, we'll make them stop and stare
And realize what they have dreamed.

(In marvel) (Clarinet/Piano/Drums)
Isn't it new?
Isn't it marvelously, scarily appealing
To see in Times New Roman
Cambria, and Comic Sans - our names!

(whispered) (I can't even believe the fame!)

(Cue brass)
Oh, Lily, my dear
Excitement is near
Just cue in the encore
Bring in the brass --

(Back down to a softer tone)
Because one day
We'll regret we threw it all away

(Exclaimed) But hey, darling, we've got a life to live! (Cue brass back in)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Brick Boxes on Magnolia: Why Perfect is the Scariest Thing Ever

This is my favorite cover of the song.

When I sit in their livingroom with a cup of hot cider during a morning such as today's, I'm flooded with perfect. How else does one explain it?

Well, the little girls -
They do all their chores
Save allowances for the candy stores
And they come out holding boxes
And they smile, all the same. 

And the troublemakers
In their Cadillacs 
Don't cut any of the nerds some slack
And they walk through the town as the day breaks
Pickpocket, all the same. 

As a followup post to I Burped My Mother Today, I am reflecting on one of my favorite Youtube videos and what I have observed in my current life. 
As I am helping my mother recover from her surgery, we are staying with family friends in Magnolia. Living in Woodinville, I'm used to walking between nice houses with nice yards and barking dogs. I wouldn't have ever dreamed of actually living in one, though. 
I told my mother, "Mom, the people here walk to the town and drop cookies at one another's houses. Then, Corinne and I went to the park, and I found all these people who I didn't know. I played tag and picked berries with them!". However, as I reflect on that with a moment to myself, I only now realize how different my life is from the one I'm living now. 
It's scary, actually. I'm used to turning the lights off and saving some food for the following day. Heck, even as I'm a teen, I watch my sugar and salt intake and think about how much money is being spent on summer activities and the like, even though I don't spend any of the money used myself. I think about these things when I'm at home, though. Things like how my dad is doing in the apartment or how my mom is doing in the house. When I'm here, in my "Mega Magno Mansion", it's all Doctor Who (a luxury that I hadn't yet discovered nor will I be able to use when I go home) and iced tea. The phenomenon of something so different, and so wonderful, is the worst thing I have ever gone through. 
When I get up in the morning, I check my laptop. I reply to any roleplays and try to start a blog post, as well as write. Then, I walk with the two other teens in the house into the "village" on what I call "the far side of the concrete hill" in spirit of Jean Craighead George. Then, we return for lunch and an episode or two of Doctor Who. Then, we mill around and do our chores, where mine is taking care of my mother. We eat dinner, and I check my laptop again, most likely stroking their cat or one of the two dogs - one of which is mine - as I finish any posts and wrap up my thoughts. Before we watch one more episode on the big-screen TV, I cartoon my thoughts (as I like to do sometimes) and settle down for one more adventure. Then, after I shoo the girls away, I sleep on the couch, which serves as my bed. I dreamt this week of the TARDIS and chocolate cake. 
Not a single thing went horribly wrong, either. No drunken neighbors, no yard-waste-bin thieves from across the street and no mean mothers coming to pick up their toddlers from their smoking Nana's house. Something to worry about and chew on - to me, at least - is stimulating. It gives me something to work around and makes me tougher. This life that I'm living now, however, is just...scary. Everything can be poked, but it won't change shape or develop an abnormality, no matter how hard you punch and kick at it. Even if you lodged tacks in its heart, the life would remain so wonderfully perfect that it would kill me. 

Still alive here, 


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ms. Naive and the Individual

It will happen, my dear
The tearing of flesh
From your out-puffed chest
My dear, it will.

But should you choose, my dear
the fork and spoon
Over I? Go ahead -
My dear, you shall. 

Why do you run, my dear
away from the bees?
The stigmas they carry on their fuzzy backs
My dear, their fuzzy consciences

Why must I leave, my dear
away to whichever fandom is next
Never staying long - not ever
My darling, your winds are raging.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I Burped My Mother Today

I remember tracing my fingers over the flowers on my mother's quilt, surrounded by the silence of the sad little room lit only by the fiery gossip from the dining table. All the more I remember that I'm but an alien in this house where my mother is staying. I haven't ever stayed longer than three days, but now I'm expected to be here for upwards of ten.
My fingers kept rubbing together as I tried to distract myself in my not-aunt's (In which case I just call her aunt, and on the blog, Naunt.) GMC as we neared Swedish Hospital. I talked my chapped lips off about the boys who I am friends with (Whose misadventures will soon surface here!) and how they react to my occasional bout of girlishness.
I didn't know what to expect. I remember when I had surgery around this time last year; I was groggy from anesthetic and had been fed wonderful things. However, I remembered less if my eyes were droopy or if I had a little dry drool on my cheek. I didn't know what someone six-hours-out looked like. In my head, I wondered if my mother would be helpless as a baby. I knew that a friend (Gogrammer, officially) would be watching over her, and in that I have faith. Still, I have found the peaceful silence and fear emanating from every crystal-clean surface to be scarily unnerving. Wouldn't you think the same?
She was there, asking for chapstick and a milkshake (and her Lactaid pills). Her eyes sagged a little and the machine connected to her IV clicked and sounded off. From there, I ordered her dinner and edited her goals for tomorrow to be along the likes of "Mars Landing" and "TARDIS Repairs". A day well done, I'd call it, so long as she'd have been home about eight hours ago. 
I'm in the same place as last night, writing the same old post in the same old position on this raggedy beanbag. Naunt is talking downstairs and I imagine that, albeit the time difference, my grandmother (Oma, officially) is still up. My mother should be home tomorrow, and I ought to go to bed. Goodnight, world. I'll take you to the Market with me next.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I See the Room Where my Mother Will Be

I see the room where my mother will be
Clean and yellow-white
Clean enough to wipe a tear away, as if she'll die on impact.

I see the room where my mother will be
It smells like flowers
Like that in powder to clot the surgical drip as if it will keep her bound.

I see the room where my mother will be
It's as if she'll die there
As if she'll waste away.

I hear the room where the gossip will be
I'm sitting on her linens. 
A shrill laugh erupts over Doritos, as if she'll waste away.

I see the room where my mother will be
I'll channel the waste
And without haste
I'll leave let her sleep.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

September Portfolio Project: Process of Editing

cellar_door_films on Flickr

As I title my posts, I imply that each passing "day" is a day of actually doing things. There was one day before the first post where I got my ideas, and I've procrastinated most of the week after the first post. As a refresher, my September Portfolio Project is for the common case of people asking what I write. I have also decided to enter my story in the Bainbridge Student Writing Contest under a realer name (Cos, you know, there is a realer life when you power down the computer.).
Yesterday, I finished my zero draft. Being a teenage writer, the very thought of going through an entire draft and ripping it up sounded (and still sounds) horrendous, but I have powered through 1/4 of the three-page "zero draft".

...okay, so that means about 3/4 of a page, but that doesn't mean that's all I did! I drew a TARDIS on my desk, too.

At this point, to cater to contest rules, I have greatly shortened my plot and draft length to three pages. Condensing it all was probably one of the hardest things I've done. Still, I got to the point where all the characters were introduced after the first page, tension rose, and action ensued. There is still quite a bit that I am working on (as in the rising action - so hard in short pieces) and that I'm refining. (Are those things on butterflies' wings...scales?) I'll be sure to get some more to you guys later. However, there's no excerpt that I've edited, everything sounds horrible...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fitting in as a College Kid (and Doing Alright)

I can only pray that nobody peers over a certain shoulder - that of the short Asian girl who never says a word and sips cautiously at the school food that nobody else seems to be eating - and sees this post being written at the same time. However, with one comes the others, and I don't know any of these people. As I employ my skills of single-handed typing (from a few too many sprained wrists), I find myself in the almost-lively cafeteria of Bellevue College.
As a teen, I'm generally social. I'm happy to start conversation with people at my school who I don't really know and hope for the best. Frankly, though, it's a little intimidating when the people around you are all much taller than you are and know maths beyond even your advanced classes. I look around and see faces of people taking a break from biochem 160 or taking data for the statistics class. In fact, when those students come around I am forced to reveal my identity as not from here.
Don't get me wrong - I love BC. The campus is very pretty and the people seem alright to be around - at least from my observations - if not friendly in general. I find art everywhere, whether in the form of a statue in the courtyard or this wonderful sun-speckled mural on the cafeteria window. I haven't yet gained the confidence to talk to too many people, though; I ordered some soup and asked for directions but barely spoke audibly. However, the atmosphere is lively and friendly. I'm only intimidated by my own standards of peers. I actually hope to meet a few people and be able to chat, since I'll be here most of the week.
My mother's taking a class in the science building - biochem 160, as I said - and I've spent most of my time there or in the cafeteria. There's a wall-sized window that looks right out at the courtyard, and the chairs near there are marvelous for my back. Mom says that I would fit in well as a college student mind that I would have needed to finish my high school education. After taking summer classes this year, I was feeling pretty big-headed as I hadn't many to talk with. Now that I'm at the college and around folks speaking humbly about their algebra work, I feel a little smaller in ego, too. I'm thinking that this has prevented me from talking to many, though I'm sure I'll find an acquaintance at one point or another.
In comparison to my last post, BC is very diverse. Wherever I go, a new language is added to the fluency list of the student population. Because it's finals week for many, groups of students (many of the same ethnicity as their peers) chatter about course coverage and testing, at least from what I can see when papers and passed around. Many of these people are excited for the end of their courses, though I can pry a few anxious faces from the crowd. I feel pretty bad for them, and I often mentally with others luck.
With that said, I'm not going to look at anyone. As a growing teen, I've become more immersed in social problems revolving around older teens and young adults. Colleges seem to be hotspots for all sorts of danger, and I'm keeping a careful eye out for anyone following me too fast. From my careful writerly observations, though, I've been introduced to a medley of characters through the people there. For instance, there's this one guy who has worn a top hat and schmancy clothing for the past few days. He seems alright. TopHat hung out at a table near mine yesterday and was pretty nice to the others. (Drat, I feel like a primary teacher...) I'll probably be running into him again some time.

As for my NaNoWriMo and other projects, my NaNo file was corrupt and refused to open yesterday morning, resulting in a loss of 6,000 words. I decided to join my mom here so I could get more work done...yeah, that's going pretty well, considering that I spent the past fifteen minutes blogging...

All the best and more soon,


Update (minutes later): Okay, I'm back in the science building. Someone just sat down across from me. She looks alright. Lady just walked by walking her pet dog, doesn't give a crud. I wish my dog were here and wouldn't chew everything up.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Realer Life in Building B

I live nestled in downtown Woodinville, just a walk away from the movie theater and TCBY. Here in the apartment building, children run helter-skelter in the parking lot every afternoon, playing soccer or tag. They don't necessarily annoy me, but my dog ends up barking at them.

Sometimes, as a younger teen, I look to the children and see faces perhaps just one year younger than I, or the same age. I can see them from my window on the ground floor, and they can't see me. It's almost as if I am transparent or invisible behind the window, watching life unfold around me. In fact, I'm finding it sort of interesting to observe what the others are doing. Could it be just a writerly thing? Upstairs, much stomping, banging, screaming, and bass can be heard throughout the day and night. After a little observation, I found the apartment to house a family with small children, thus explaining much of the stomping and screaming.

After growing up in the suburbs for most of my life, being in the apartment on the weekends is invigorating. It wakes up a part of my awareness that wouldn't have been alive otherwise. All my life, I was taught that people were quiet and kept to themselves, that the kids playing with one another were only found in movies. On our culdesac, even though it was full of children, each family didn't interact much with the others, having their children do their own things. This, however, didn't lead to much bad - we all rode our bikes around the sewer cover, and I shot arrows and BB pellets in the backyard. However, knowing what "realer" life was through my time here shows what things truly are like.

A small dream of mine is to interact and play with the children myself. Inside of me, there is a small child who still wants to get out and play. I feel as if I'm still too soft for it, though. As a teenager, I'd call it "awkwarded-out". Simply, what do I do with a bunch of children? I don't know any of them or their families. Plus, I tend to keep to myself on the ground story, blogging and writing most of the day. That and the fact that my Spanish is new and very little. Many of this building's occupants are Hispanics and other Spanish-speaking cultures. My dad speaks Spanish, as he was once a professor of the language, but none of us are Hispanic. I aim to learn to speak Spanish and be able to interact with so much more of my world.

I know people - and I see these people every day, at times - who are scared or too proud to interact with the Hispanic population of our city. It sickens me, this pompous pride. Where I go to school, racial variety is very little, and I have been discriminated against for looking Hispanic. I'm Asian, which leads to more. Every day, I hear jokes tossed around degrading Hispanics, and I've seen them to be genuine, nice people through my screen door. I hear people around me say that Hispanic children are stupid when they live in such a beautiful city that houses much of the wealthier population of the east side. These children are just being who they are, and my peers would shut them out of their streams of consciousness in an instant. Why teenagers and children will turn their backs to what's only real is the part that sickens me. I can't say, "Please change!" as much as I'm apt to punch someone in the face one of these days.

Then, there's the fact that I'm young. My peers are young. Their peers are young, and they all think the same of other races. They think less of city children, of country children, of anybody but themselves, and they'll deny it every day. Frankly, I don't know what I'm thinking. By paying attention to this issue, am I denying mental separation? It's a problem that simply will not subside, no matter what we do about it. There will be no change. Since people have categorized each other, they have started a problem that cannot be stopped.

Whether it's for the greater ("They are pointing guns at people, thus, they are dangerous."), mere observation (This little girl has very small clothes, looks malnourished, and lives in a poor place where education is limited. She may not know how to read."), or for the worse ("He is wearing a hood and hasn't talked to anybody. He will kill someone in the next ten minutes if I don't intervene.), this problem won't subside. Ever.

The lack of having a grip on "realer" life is going to be tough. In none of these ten months of living here on the weekends, I have found no neighborly connections, and for that I feel some shame. If the children play with one another like they do in the movies, then shouldn't the neighbors know one another?

What defines this realer life, anyways?